Historical Connections

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Michael Barone's "We're Not Leaving," [July21-28] has shown the striking parallel between President Truman's determination not to leave Berlin in 1948 at the mercy of the Soviets and President Bush's determination (often labeled "unreasonable stubbornness") not to leave Iraq at the mercy of terrorists.

 Thus our president last year ordered a surge of U. S. troops, which was opposed by most Americans causing his approval rate to go down to 29 percent. Yet, the terrorists in Iraq got the message. Thanks to the surge, their ability to kill our soldiers and peaceful Iraqis has dramatically decreased this year. Now President Bush can see, not a fixed date, but "a general time horizon" for scaling down troop levels and at the right time reaching the goal of having the Iraqis handling their own security without a U. S. military presence. To me, George W. Bush's "stubbornness," regardless of public approval rates, in seeking to defeat the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere makes him one of our greatest presidents.

Hans Andrae

Jeannette , Pa.  

Leadership is not about popularity! Besides President Truman saying "We're not leaving Berlin" there was another brave man who made it clear "We're staying and so is my family". That man was my father, Brig. General Frank L. Howley, a reservist and the military commandant of Berlin, Germany, from 1945 until 1949 when we all returned to the USA and civilian life again. Our home was under the flight path into Templehoff. Later my father was asked if the noise of planes overhead every 90 seconds 24 hours a day didn't keep him from getting a good night sleep. His answer: "Only when I didn't hear them!" Our life depended on those planes and their brave candy dropping aircrews. Before the blockade started, my father, anticipating it, stored a large supply of powdered milk saving the lives of numerous infants and later earning him an honorary medical degree from the Free University of Berlin. Leadership is about a lot more than popularity.

Peter Howley

Petaluma , Calif.  

Maybe we are not leaving, but the world of today and the United States place in it is far different from the world of 60 years ago. Sixty years ago the US had prevailed in mankind's greatest upheaval. In 1948 the US had the bomb and had used it, we were the world's only super power. Today we are the world's largest debtor and that is the difference between then and now. Of course Iraq is not the USSR. There is no question that we can and will prevail in Iraq, but we, those of us who are blessed to be able to remember the "Berlin Air Lift", will always stand in awe of that feat.

Robert Wilkins

Apple Valley , Calif.  

How can it be argued the invasion of Iraq and the Berlin airlift are comparable and therefore, President Bush should "stand fast" as President Truman did in 1948? Is dropping food and candy from airplanes for less than a year and without shots being fired at American pilots the same as troops on the ground being killed by an enemy in a war that has been going more than five years?

Sidney L. Willens

Kansas City , Mo.  

If we hadn't had the surge we would have the troops to send to Afghanistan where Marines are being killed due to the shortage. And I remember the purpose of the surge was to give the political leaders in Iraq time to make progress. I don't see the political progress. I do agree with the clear lesson that the men and women of the American military are capable, but that has nothing to do with decisions made by Bush.

Chet Briggs

Penn Yan , N.Y.  

Michael Barone could not have selected a more inapt analogy than a comparison of Bush and our current circumstances in Iraq to Truman and the Berlin Airlift in 1948. In 1945 the United States had led the United Nations coalition to decisive victory in the greatest war in history, a necessary conflict against genocidal Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy. In the Berlin Airlift we used airpower to avoid direct confrontation with the USSR and consequent casualties by flying over the Soviet blockade to supply newly democratic West Berlin. In Iraq we have not won (Gen. Petraeus constantly emphasizes how tenuous our gains are) a long conflict with an insurgency that we spawned in our unnecessary and misbegotten aggression against a smaller country. We have suffered nearly 40,000 casualties and inflicted untold death and destruction upon Iraq, while losing ground in Afghanistan against the warlords and the Taliban, the original source of 9/11. Barone's resort to praising our soldiers and fliers cannot save his fundamentally flawed analogy.

John H. Morrow, Jr.  

Athens , Ga.  

In Michael Barone's National Interest, he says "....the kindness of American soldiers can be a national asset. ....today's national media are not disposed to tell them." U S News is part of the national media—so tell the stories of our military in Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever. In the same issue was a photo-essay about nurse Anisa Mertiri, very powerful. The positive effect of a photo-essay about the good deeds of our military in each issue would do wonders to neutralize the negative press.

Janine Macy

Toledo , W ash.